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MP Rights Panel Sees Red as Health Officials Make Mockery of COVID-19 Protocol after Testing Positive

Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) has sought the state Chief Secretary’s response over reports that some coronavirus-positive IAS officers and health department staffers delayed their hospitalisation by up to two days.

In a letter written on Tuesday to Chief Secretary Iqbal Singh Bains, the commission said it took cognisance of the matter on the basis of a news report and facts provided by Congress MP Vivek Tankha through his tweets. Bains has been asked to file his response by 5pm on Thursday.

More than 20 officials and employees of the health directorate have tested positive so far. Contrary to protocol, Principal Secretary Pallavi Jain Govil and Deputy Director Veena Sinha did not report to hospital after testing positive and remained quarantined at home. The officers are also accused of not reporting to authorities the arrival of their family members from the US.

Both officials had agreed to be hospitalised after Bains intervened on Monday night.

Govil in a video message had claimed she had quarantined herself as she displayed no symptoms despite testing positive.

Another deputy director Ruby Khan was lodged in the administration academy on her own and defied pleas to vacate the premises. After being threatened with strict action, she agreed to be shifted to Bansal hospital on Monday night.

Khan had defied requests from AP Srivastava, director administration academy, and Abhay Bedekar, OSD Estate, a state government entity that governs government establishments. More than 100 families live in the administrative academy campus.

“I requested the commission on the strength of my tweets and news reports that a serious situation has arisen in Madhya Pradesh where because of callousness of the health department, the lives of people within the and outside the department are in danger,” said Tankha.

There is exponential spread of coronavirus in the health department because of wanton disregard of government guidelines which must necessarily be followed by all, he said, adding that it “shows administration in poor light”.

Bains has been asked to respond on points, including as to when the officers mentioned in the news reports were tested positive and as to why they were not kept in an isolation ward of the hospital. The commission has also asked for details of the officers responsible for not following the government guidelines on ensuring immediate admission of coronavirus-positive bureaucrats to hospital.

“It shows a callous attitude by senior IAS officer Govil, who is in charge of the health department, and other staff under her. Why did she not get herself admitted to hospital after her test reports confirmed coronavirus?” asked social activist Ajay Dubey.

There are 250 employees and 50 officials in the Health directorate at Bhopal. Dubey claimed that other staff from the directorate, including gunmen, clerks, IT employees, peons and others have also contracted the infection, indicating norms weren’t followed in the department.

(With inputs from PTI)

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